Department of History Graduate Theses

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    Missing Parts: A Critical Analysis of Amputees and Disability History in Three Canadian Archives and Museums
    Ryan, Shaelyn; History; Maynard, Steven
    This thesis examines the ways that disability history in Canada—specifically amputee history—is constructed and presented in different museums and archives through three case studies: The Middleville and District Museum, the Museum of Health Care at Kingston, and Library and Archives Canada. Through the lens of critical disability studies, I investigate the narratives and conceptions of disability within each of these institutions and bring disability into conversation with archival studies in order to recommend ways that disability history might be made more discoverable, accessible, and equitable. Each institution, representing different types of museums and archives in Canada, is useful and important for the study of disability history for different reasons, and each requires different archival methodologies when dealing with disability. This thesis recognizes and argues the importance of examining the processes and systems at play in museums and archives which construct particular views of disability history.
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    L’oeuil incommode: Police Surveillance in Eighteenth-Century Paris
    Marrs, Sean; History; Jainchill, Andrew
    This dissertation analyzes the surveillance of foreign visitors and members of the diplomatic corps by the Paris police between 1774 and 1791. Based on the reports submitted by the police to the secretary of state for foreign affairs, this project investigates the role of surveillance and the connections between a city police force and the foreign ministry. It asks to what extent were foreigners surveilled by the police and for what purpose? What does it mean to surveil foreigners in Paris and what does it tell us about the nature of the Paris police and the French state? The Contrôle des étrangers contains over 18,000 entries. I catalogued and analyzed every file, meticulously looking for patterns and coming to conclusions. This dissertation is a result of three years of careful analysis. The reports reveal a police and a state that was hungry for information. Agents of the Paris police observed, recorded, and filed information on the activities of countless foreigners coming to and living in the city. This dissertation establishes the police surveillance of foreigners as an essential activity to secure Paris. This surveillance was one of many police activities, but it was one that connected the police to larger actors outside the city and brought ordinary police operations into the realm of high politics and foreign policy. The French authorities viewed foreigners as a threat, even if most were only innocent travellers. It analyzes the connection that this surveillance had to the development of the information-state. In this respect, police observation was suspiciousless surveillance. Information was widely collected on foreigners with the belief that it was necessary for a future in which this information was useful. Knowledge about foreigners shaped the police’s understanding of Paris, even if nothing more was done with the reports other than putting them on a shelf. Finally, it argues that the surveillance of foreigners must be related to the international political issues of the day. The work of the police was a political surveillance. Agents took specific orders that corresponded directly with the foreign policy of the French state. The surveillance was a tool for gathering news on public opinion and observing hostile actors – even when the hostility of those actors was only imaginary.
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    From Wetland Wilderness to Ecological Model: Reclamations of Chongming Island, Shanghai, from 1950 to 2020
    Yue, Bingru; History; Hill, Emily
    This dissertation investigates the transformation of social and ecological relations on Chongming Island, Shanghai from the 1950s to the 2010s. Chongming Island experienced dramatic anthropogenic environmental changes during the period, including the draining of wetlands on a large scale and a later ecological conservation program, along with the reorganization of communities on the island. Chinese Communist Party-led governments at different levels implemented policies inspired by socialism that resulted in systematic change. Irresistible state-driven campaigns reconstructed and simplified both nature and society as working tools to be managed and deployed. Wetlands were drained and transformed into state farms, completed through the mobilization of Chongming farmers, Shanghai citizens, and material resources gathered from the island’s villages. Appropriations of resources to achieve the goals prioritized by officials intensified pressures on the material world, including human resources. Tensions and resistance arose, especially when physical limits were intentionally disregarded while the interests of affected groups were discounted. Through an analytical approach to nature and humanity as a complete material world, this case study illustrates how unsustainable appropriations of natural resources and abusive demands on human productive capacities tend to occur in close association. As a contribution to Chinese history, it examines these associated impacts the “mass mobilization” that was a key principle and policy of the Mao era.
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    Gregory Palamas and Demetrios Kydones on God, Knowledge, and Humanity at the End of Byzantium
    Gebhardt, Paul; History; Greenfield, Richard
    Palaiologan Byzantium is conspicuous not only for the gradual erosion of its autonomy and any pretence to empire, but also for the severity of its religious controversies. Among these, the so-called "Hesychast Controversy" of the fourteenth century has proven to be as difficult now to characterize as it was impossible then to ignore. Modern scholarship has described it variously as a conflict between the monastery and the secular church, between traditionalists and innovators, and between the advocates of a mystical theology and those who favoured a dogmatic or philosophical alternative. While there is truth to each of these descriptions, they are also misleading insofar as each is incomplete. The present dissertation proposes a way of integrating and expanding some of these characterizations. In particular, it attempts to consider what the debates of the early and late controversy reveal of pre-existing and newly crystalizing beliefs about intellection, the human person, and the relationship between humanity and the divine, as well as how a climate of existential threat enabled or modulated expression of these beliefs. Gregory Palamas’ hesychast doctrine not only grounds apodictic cataphatic theology in hesychia, it indicates that the fullness of the human person is only realized in the divinization of that holy silence. That divinization requires the intellect be made completely silent. Contrastingly, Demetrios Kydones presents a vision of the human person as most fully realized while deliberately engaging the intellect. For Demetrios, intellection is nothing less than the act which distinguishes humanity from animal creation. It follows that knowledge of God can also be achieved through intellection. These are the more fundamental and opposed visions of humanity which are revealed in the major texts of that controversy, and whose expression was catalyzed by that climate of chronic existential threat.
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    The Matter of Britain: How the Tudors Adapted British Historic Tradition to Legitimise their Dynasty
    White, David; History; Woolf, Daniel
    The subject of this paper is the relationship between the Tudors who ruled England 1485-1603 and their Welsh ancestry. The Welsh of the sixteenth century viewed themselves as Britons with a tradition dating back before Roman Britain. Recent scholarship has highlighted the ongoing importance of Welsh and British narratives in Tudor England. This thesis shows that the importance of the British past to the Tudors is not a series of isolated instances but clearly related parts of an ongoing discourse by them to legitimise their claims to authority. Whether initially with the weak genealogical claims to the throne with Henry VII, or the supremacy over the Church in England during the Reformation, or even at the end of the sixteenth century when Elizabeth I began to sponsor what would become the British Empire. The Tudors successfully applied their British pedigree to the crises of legitimacy throughout the sixteenth century and created a new concept of Britain, a Tudor Britain.